Yes, we all like to fish Z-man plastics with the legendary TT lures range of jig heads but occasionally a touch of subtlety is required to make the fish react. This can be because the fish are particularly wary or in the event of a competition format you want to empty the swim without thrashing paddle tails through the swim constantly. I recently saw first hand the devastating effects of how Z-man plastics were rigged in very basic ways but with consistent catch results and it proved that the right lure can be fished many different ways.
Caro rig. Most will be familiar with the Carolina rig, I use it regularly when fishing from a boat for Wrasse and occasionally on the canal for Perch. This method coupled with a nice steady slow retrieve is a lovely way to fish as the lure/rig combo does all the work with no twitching or shaking required and the Elaztech plastics will wallow nicely. Stop the retrieve and the lure will slowly rise, speed up and the lure will get pulled back to the bottom. Very simple and very affective for Zander and Perch. The leader can be any length provided it can be cast and if you use a sliding stop with powergum or similar to increase the distance between the weight and the business end then the leader length can be adjusted to suit the conditions. This ‘Low n Slow’ method is killer. What I hadn’t seen is rigs up to 15ft in length until a day on the water last year when huge rigs were coupled with 12ft rods to aid casting and it certainly paid off for Zander. It was hugely frustrating as I was unable to replicate this without the rigs ending up in a heap of flourcarbon. I was hugely impressed and annoyed with myself as a long running ledger type setup is bread and butter in the sea-a perfect example of having the tools in the box but not having the keys to unlock it.
Neko rig. Unlike the caro rig this requires some specialist tackle but it’s still a very simple finesse approach. The basic principle is a weight in the form of a nail sinker or mushroom weight attached directly to the bottom of the lure and the hook is rigged about two thirds up the lure. An O ring can be used to make the hook sit nicely and also helps preserve the lures. Using the Finesse WormZ as an example the Neko rig will enable the lure to sit vertically with the bonus being the hook is further up the lure than a traditional ShroomZ head would allow.
Neko Rig – just add water.
I like this method as it allows longer 4” plus lures to be fished very light but by scaling correctly it can be used with any size plastics just use a suitable size hook and if it’s very slim lures you’re using then a nail sinker will probably be the best bet. So what does this method offer over a Caro, Shaker head or even a wacky rigged lure? It’s about presentation and the ability to hold the lure in position and still make it dance. A vertical profile adds a different dimension and the separation of hook and weight allows the lure to be twitched very delicately and on a hard day when the fish are tentative this can offer a significant edge. A normal drop shot type rod will work nicely with the Neko rig and don’t dismiss holding the lure off the bottom with a slight twitch, Perch are suckers for this although a very slow retrieve coupled with a few pauses will catch fish but always keep a tight line, any slack will render it useless and you may miss a take. Paul Parnell is a strong advocate of the Neko and shows us how he rigs his Finesse WormZ with an O ring.
Neko Rig doing the business
The rest of the UK Z-man team are privy to the just how successful he has proved this method to be over the past few seasons and we know that it has out-fished other anglers using traditional paddle tails on jigheads on the days when the fish are just not that active. In summary carry a few Neko rig components and a few Caro weights in your box next time your on the bank and couple them up with a few Zman plastics and you may just show those Perch something they haven’t seen before, especially on a pressurised venue.